Russia has deployed long-range precision-strike Kalibr cruise missiles in the Western Atlantic placing dozens of major American cities along the East Coast in range, including the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
The missiles are capable of delivering either conventional or nuclear warheads to their targets, defense officials said, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles have been added to Russian warships and ballistic missile submarines that frequently operate in the Northern and Western Atlantic in patrols near the U.S. that are reminiscent of the Cold War.
The Free Beacon noted further:
The new sea-based Kalibr deployments are expected in the coming months, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports of the Russian maritime operations.
The land-attack version of the Kalibr, known as the SS-N-30A by NATO, is a relatively new weapon and was showcased for the first time by Moscow in attacks on Syria that began in 2015.
Russia has stated that over 100 Kalibr missile strikes were carried out against Islamic terrorists and other anti-Syrian government rebels.
The missiles have been deployed on the Russian navy’s new Sverodvinsk-class nuclear attack submarines, in addition to older subs as well as surface ships.
The move is likely in response to U.S. and NATO deployments of precision weapons including missiles near Russia’s western flank over the past year. Tass reported that Russian Navy Commander Adm. Vladimir Korolev said the sea service would remain in international waters against a backdrop of a “sharp increase in the intensity of operative and combat preparations by US and NATO near the borders of the Russian Federation, the deployment of sea-based missile shield elements, non-nuclear systems of high-precision weaponry and military infrastructure in sea waters adjacent to the Russian territory.”
As for the Kalibr, what makes it dangerous is its range and lethality. As The National Interest notes, the Kalibr is like Moscow’s version of the U.S.-built Tomahawk, which is also fielded by the United Kingdom.
Tomahawks can be sub- or surface-launched and have a precision range of about 1,000 miles. The Russian navy fired approximately 26 Kalibrs that struck targets inside Syria from about 900 miles away in late 2016. Four of them reportedly crashed in Iran.
The missiles were fired from small Russian warships in the Caspian Sea:
The National Interest speculated as to why Russia chose this method of attack:
Russian attack planes were already operating over Syria at the time of the first strike in 2015, and could easily have launched air attacks against those targets at much lower cost. However, by showing off its long-range naval strike capabilities, Moscow not only advertised its technological prowess, but literally advertised the Kalibr missiles capabilities to foreign buyers—who can opt to purchase a shorter-range variant known as the Klub missile.
The Free Beacon notes that Kalibrs are also being deployed on Russia’s new Borei-class missile submarines and attack subs.
One of its main features is that the missile flies close to the sea, making it difficult to detect and target with anti-missile systems.
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